2017-12-28 / Editorial

Reflecting on the New Year

Beyond the Headlines
by Sen. Justin Chenette

Goodbye 2017. Hello 2018.

The New Year provides an opportunity to really explore what you want out of life. It’s a natural time to use a proverbial mirror to reflect back on how you got to this point in your life and set a course for who and what you want to be going forward.

Where to begin? Ask probing and personal questions that you never seem to have time to answer. Do you want to help people more? Maybe volunteer in the community, start a service project or nonprofit, join a board of directors or city committee, etc. Are you satisfied in your current job? Mainly, do you feel like your job enables you to utilize your skills, empower your passions, and make a difference? Are you happy? That’s a big one. The answer is usually less significant than the reasons that led you to either conclusion.

In our daily hustle and bustle, from our job(s) to our family commitments, to everything in between, it seems like taking time for ourselves is either selfish or impossible to schedule. I’m not saying you need a spa day, though there’s nothing wrong with pampering yourself once in a while, but it’s more about taking a mental reprieve from the day to day craziness to think about your life in the abstract. The 30,000 foot level. Some may call it meditation, but it’s more about finding a quiet space to really analyze your place in this ongoing journey of self-discovery we call life.

I like to think of life through the lens of what would you like to be remembered for. Particularly, if we were to look back on your life on a DVD, your choice of blu-ray or digital download, what would you want on it? You can’t erase the bad experiences or memories and your mistakes, but looking back you can see if you learned from them; applying a key lesson you gleaned from it and advanced yourself to a higher level. From a relationship, it might be discovering who you really want to be with. What qualities you are really looking for and better yet what to look out for to avoid in the next relationship. With a job, it might be knowing how to recognize your value with a company and whether you are being appreciated properly both socially and financially. Or how you treat other people. I’m sure there will be some cringe worthy scenes. If you can’t erase it and you have to review your life like that, how might you change how you live it in the present?

Many times when I speak to young people about reaching their greatest potential, they often tell me they have plenty of time to figure out their lives. There’s no rush, I’m young, they say. While there may be some truth to that, I have always found that there is never enough time. That life is passing us by faster and faster with each year we are on this Earth. I remember back when I was still in school, I felt a clock tick, as if I needed to figure everything out and make my mark as soon as possible. Probably the main reason I started into my career field sooner than my friends and peers and a reason I always felt disconnected from other people in my age bracket. I just felt there is no time like the present to turn your dreams or passions into reality. Why wait around? Life is there to live it, not sit on the sidelines.

Part of what shaped this life philosophy, was the passing of my father at a young age. Losing a parent at any age can be extremely difficult to deal with emotionally and spiritually. Losing a parent when you are a child can have lifelong consequences or impacts depending on your support structure and how you channel it into something better later. I lost my dad due to complications of diabetes when I was around 9 years old. It wasn’t until many years later I recognized the true significance around this major event in my young life. I believe it personified that idea of life is short. Since then, I treat every experience as an opportunity to learn and grow into a better person and to savor the time we are given. While I love the good experiences, I’m almost more appreciative of the times in my life that were the most challenging and difficult. Those experiences, while going through them were not fun and even damaging emotionally in the short term, made me the person I am today. Made me stronger. Independent. Smarter.

I don’t mean to turn this column into a Dr. Phil/Oprah hour, but I think it’s important to connect the dots of your life like the puzzle pieces of that most complicated 20,000 piece one you could never quite finish. Each experience, each person that comes into your life, is like one piece of that puzzle. When all is said and done, in the end, it’s a work of art. Remember everything happens for a reason. When you take some time to really accept yourself and where you’re at in life, you will see how things build upon each other and the end results wouldn’t have happened without the bumps in the road.

Let’s make this new year, the best one yet!

Justin Chenette is serving his first term as the youngest senator in the Maine Senate representing Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Hollis, Limington and Buxton. He previously served two terms in the Maine House of Representatives. Outside the Legislature, he is the owner of Chenette Media LLC, a marketing & public relations firm, works as the marketing coordinator of Saco Sport & Fitness, and is the president/ CEO of the Saco Bay Center of Civic Engagement, a 501c3 nonprofit service organization. Sign up for legislative updates at www.justinchenette.com or www.Facebook.

Return to top